Second-degree murder retrial moved to Calgary

Second-degree murder jury trial ended in mistrial in Red Deer last month

The retrial has been moved to Calgary for a Red Deer man accused of stabbing another man outside a city pub in 2015.

A Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench justice ordered a new trial for Daniel Boyd Sawyer last month after declaring a mistrial in his second-degree murder case.

Sawyer, 34, is accused of stabbing to death Alan Beach, 31, in a fight outside Red Deer’s Blarney Stone Pub on Nov. 18, 2015. Beach was stabbed and slashed repeatedly and died later in hospital.

A jury began hearing evidence last Nov. 15 in what was supposed to be about a three-week trial. But it quickly bogged down in evidence issues that had to be argued without the jury present meaning they went days without hearing any testimony.

By the time Justice Bill Hopkins declared a mistrial in early January, the jury — now down to the minimum 10 people allowed — had heard evidence for less than five of the more than 30 days the court had been sitting.

Defence lawyer Chris Archer sought and was given approval to move the trial to Calgary to get an earlier date for his client who has been in custody since he turned himself into police in nine days after the stabbing. No dates were available in Red Deer this year to accommodate the length of trial needed.

A new trial has not yet been set. Archer will be appearing in a Calgary courtroom on behalf of his client on Friday.

On Monday, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Marilyn Slawinsky agreed to Archer’s request that Sawyer remain in Red Deer, where he has his support network, until he is needed in court in Calgary.

Archer has already made an application to have the case dropped against his client on the grounds it did not get to trial in a reasonable amount of time.

Under a 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision, a deadline of 18 months has been set for a case to go from charge to trial in most provincial court cases and 30 months in higher courts. In what is known as the Jordan decision, the country’s top court calls for dismissal of cases that have been subject to unreasonable delays.

A number of cases — some of them involving high-profile serious crimes — have been dismissed and accused allowed to go free after judges ruled they took too long to get to trial.

Archer will argue his Jordan application before a Calgary judge on May 1-2. In making a Jordan decision, judges review why a case took as long as it did to reach trial and how much of that delay should be attributed to the prosecution and how much to the defence.

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